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OMEGA Watches: Intimacy on the wrist with CEO Raynald Aeschlimann

Raynald-Aeschlimann-Cover-OMEGA-Watches

As you probably know, we have some more intimate relationships than others. The watch is certainly, perhaps even before the wedding ring, the most intimate object of a gentleman. I discussed it with Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA Watches, to get his point of view on this object, which has become an investment over time.

Q & A with Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA Watches

As you probably know, we have some more intimate relationships than others. The watch is certainly, perhaps even before the wedding ring, the most intimate object of a gentleman. I discussed it with Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA, to get his point of view on this object, which has become an investment over time.

First of all, what do you think prompts a gentleman to invest in a watch? The quality, the brand, the prestige?

I think it is about having something with real emotional value. Much of the fashion we wear today is seasonal. It evolves every year, and we constantly change our wardrobe. However, a mechanical watch is something that can stay on your wrist for a lifetime. It has a personal attachment and is there for the most important times in a gentleman’s life. For that very reason, it is always worth the investment.

How to choose the best, the one that suits us among all those watches that exist.

The most important word is value. Too many people talk about the price of a watch. Really, you have to look at the value. Find out about the materials, the history, the ingenuity and the craftsmanship that goes into a watch, and you will soon discover which one is the best. That is the advantage of OMEGA. We have a remarkable heritage, but we also invest hugely in pioneering innovation that continues to produce the highest standard. 

What do you say to people who collect watches rather than wearing them?

I think it is a great thing. Watches mean something different to everyone. You can wear a watch every day because you love it or keep it as a treasured item. For me, the most important thing is passion. If you are passionate about what you are buying, then you cannot go wrong.

We all know that great watches were there at a particular time. We can talk about the moon landing, car racing, scuba diving, aviation, sports timing, etc. Does it help give the watch a more gentlemanly feel? If yes, in what way?

OMEGA Speedmaster Anniversay Series “Silver Snoopy Award”

OMEGA Speedmaster Anniversay Series “Silver Snoopy Award”
Credit: OMEGA

I think it certainly helps to support a gentlemen’s lifestyle. OMEGA has always created watches for style and purpose. So whether you are on a yacht or the moon, we can provide a timepiece that you can trust through every moment. The things you mention, like aviation and racing, are all part of our heritage. That really gives a watch authenticity, which I think is important, and again adds to its value.

How is technology changing this relationship with precious watches? Are we tempted to change more often with watches that can be obsolete objects?

This goes back to what I said about emotional value. Technology, like our phones and laptops, are important to us, but we are not sentimental about them. As soon as a new version arrives, we want to change it. That is why, today, we now have a closer connection than ever to our watches. People see them as a beloved possession and really appreciate them as personal objects. 

It is a known fact that JFK wore an OMEGA during his presidency. How did the brand become a gentleman’s icon? I guess the James Bond association for over 25 years with the brand helps?

OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M Edition 007

THE OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M Edition 007
The watch produced in collaboration with Daniel Craig
for the movie No Time To Die, coming in 2021.
Credit: OMEGA

Wherever time moves, OMEGA is there. We began in 1848, creating watches for men and women across the world. That has included everyone from railway workers to soldiers, pilots, divers, astronauts and, of course, James Bond. Our goal has always been to offer the most reliable precision. Moreover, I think we have achieved that. Therefore, we have naturally become an icon of watchmaking. You cannot force it. You have to earn it. 

How do you differentiate yourself from other brands? As more and more premium brands try to enter the market, what are the attributes that enhance your products?

The difference today is the pioneering quality we offer. Our current Master Chronometer watches have achieved the highest certification for precision, performance and magnetic resistance. We have really refined every detail of the movement to achieve this incredible standard. In fact, every watch faces eight of the toughest tests before it can leave the factory. We have a quality we can guarantee with a five-year warranty. On top of that, we are investing massively in new materials and technologies that really put our watches’ look and longevity on another level.

What is the manufacturing process of OMEGA Watches, and most importantly, how do you develop unique new models?

We begin with what came before. OMEGA has four families of watches, including the Seamaster, Speedmaster, Constellation and De Ville. To create a new timepiece in any of those collections, we always start with that family’s essential DNA. Then, we build on it with new ideas. That could be inspired by our heritage, our passions, or simply current trends. We’ve got a fantastic design team who spend months working on a watch, trialling new colours and features, before it finally goes into production at our state-of-the-art factory.

When we are in a hurry more than ever, do people still buy a watch to know the time or is it more a matter of appearance.

It’s true that a watch is not necessary for telling the time today. We recognize that phones and computers keep us constantly updated. So a watch is more and more a beautiful accessory and a key part of your personal style. Nevertheless, that does not mean that precision isn’t important. Precision shows how much a watch company cares and how dedicated they are to the customer. That’s why OMEGA will always strive to achieve the finest accuracy possible. We want an OMEGA wearer to know they are dressed in the best.

Which watch are you wearing the most often and why?

OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch 321

OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch 321
Credit: OMEGA

I am fortunate to change my OMEGA watch regularly and wear something appropriate for the different times of my week. However, I especially love wearing the Speedmaster 321 in stainless steel. The Calibre 321 inside the watch is the famous movement worn on the moon during all of history’s six lunar landings. We recreated it to its authentic specifications last year and placed it inside this heritage-inspired Speedmaster. It was such a fabulous project, encompassing all of OMEGA’s best expertise, and the watch itself represents so much about our pioneering spirit and unique brand history. It is simply a beautiful piece with the finishing and bracelet being particularly extraordinary as a watch to wear. 

Finally, what is the future for OMEGA? I saw that you now have a collection of sunglasses, are there more extensions to come for the brand?

Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA Watches

Raynald Aeschlimann
President and CEO of OMEGA Watches
Credit: OMEGA

Our sunglasses, jewellery and accessories are a creative way to expand the OMEGA watches universe and enable customers to match something with the watch they wear. Our future will always be focused on watches, and we’re making exciting advancements in terms of anti-magnetism, new technologies and pioneering new materials. We recently built a watch that was able to go to the deepest place on Earth. So, I think as long as there are challenges out there, OMEGA will keep on creating.

Thank you, Mr. Aeschlimann, it was a pleasure to have you with us for this interview, and we can’t wait to see Daniel Craig and his Seamaster Diver 300M Edition 007 in the most recent James Bond, No Time To Die, in theatres in 2021.

President, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Gentologie.